Tropical Fire Ikebana

Tropical Fire Ikebana

I suspect you’re all probably quite tired of me complaining about winter, but I’m not done yet! Still cold and damp, still sick, and now they’re predicting half an inch of freezing rain overnight! I was very much in the mood for something reminiscent of the sweltering humidity of the tropics. The little flower counter at my local drugstore is not the place I’d expect to find birds of paradise or bright red waxy anthuriums, but lo and behold, they found me and called out to me.

The flowers are so bold and dramatic that I knew I wanted to do something big and sparse and sculptural. The beautiful blue vessel was a Christmas gift from my cousin and I love how it anchors everything, is reminiscent of water, and pulls out the hint of blue in the bird of paradise flower. I tried to arrange the anthurium to almost look like steps leading up to the stark angles of the bird of paradise, and attempted some fancy weaving of the palm leaves. It didn’t hold quite as well as I’d like, I clearly need more practice! The whole arrangement was perched dramatically onto this carved wooden stand that was my grandmother’s. I love the way it raises the whole piece up and elevates it to a work of art.

Spring can’t come soon enough! Aside from all my complaints about flu season and the cold and snow, I’m also eager to go back to working with seasonal flowers from my own garden and the great outdoors. There’s a forsythia bush in our yard that I never got the opportunity to work with last year, and I’ll be damned if I miss its blooms again this year!

Vaguely Reminiscent of a Turkey

Today is Thanksgiving in that big weird nation just south of me. Here in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving in October and it’s more of a generalised harvest festival than a celebration of any specific event involving settlers. It’s still a bit fraught, but it doesn’t have quite the same baggage attached to it. Last month, I posted a harvest-themed ikebana in honour of our celebration, but since the bulk of my readers and many of my friends and family are from the good ol’ US of A I thought it would be fun to do a thanksgiving themed outfit today.

I don’t really have anything with appropriate motifs, but then I remembered this gorgeous purple tsukesage with peacocks on it. The peacocks are quite abstracted, and if you squint, they totally look like turkeys, right? Humour me here.

Last time I coordinated this particular kimono I went for a very sleek monochrome look, so this time I wanted to do something a little more traditional. This orange and gold obi is an enormous nuisance to tie because it’s incredibly stiff, but it had a sort of festive harvest vibe to it which went well with the theme I was going for. The orange also pops very well against the rich plum of the kimono, I think. I kept the accessories in the same warm-toned range, leaning a bit more towards dark pink but still cohesive.

Unfortunately the weather is garbage today and the light in the living room was quite terrible, so these photos are overexposed in places and underexposed in others, but they still convey the mood I was going for.

If you are observing thanksgiving today, I hope you have a wonderful one. Spend time with your loved ones, eat far too much food, and take a moment to appreciate what you’ve got. Have a good long weekend!

Day lily Ikebana

The Japanese concept of mono no aware (物の哀れ), or the sense of beauty that comes from the awareness of the transience of all things, is most often exemplified by the beautiful but short-lived cherry blossom season. However, while I was going through our garden looking for inspiration recently, it struck me that these gorgeous fire-like day lily blooms are another flower that is perfectly suited the concept, having as short and vivid a lifespan as they do.

I wanted to balance the modern, sharp, nearly abstract shapes of the lilies with something much softer and more delicate, and the gentle sweeping lines of our grapevine seemed like the perfect contrast. I then chose a very organic and vintage-feeling container and paired it in turn with a clean-lined and almost harsh pedestal. I aimed to create an arrangement that seemed as timeless as it was fleeting, things with a sense of age framed against things that have existed only for a moment. I love how they come together to form both visual and emotional balance, something I am working on as I continue my journey into ikebana.

Taisho Blues

I know, I know, I said the last outfit I posted would be around for a while. Work continues apace on updating and redoing my visual catalogue, and when I took out this Taisho-era beauty I love so much, I realised I’d never coordinated her with this vintage orange hakata obi and that seemed like a crime. They feel like they were made for each other. But then again, I think hakata goes with everything. When I first got it, I paired it with an orange obi and while I loved the colour contrast, the obi was a metallic, Showa-era blingfest that felt incongruous with the soft vintage feel of the kimono. Springy green accessories were the perfect finishing touch, including a brand new obiage I’ve never used before.

If you’re a regular reader, you know that for whatever reason I’ve always had bad luck with tying obi in tsunodashi musubi but I was really in the groove after putting this outfit together and I figured I’d give it another shot. I’m really glad I did, because it worked out perfectly. The ohashori is quite puffy-looking, which is unfortunate, but sometimes it’s inevitable due to the shape of the mannequin.

Now this is definitely an outfit I’m happy to leave on the mannequin until I’m finished everything else I have in the works.

One Kimono, Four Ways – Week 3: Punchy and Popping

One of the great things about iromuji is how they can allow you to really focus attention on something other than the kimono itself. They make a great neutral canvas for a really bright or busy obi. I decided for this week’s entry that I’d do a really high-contrast coordination with a lot of “punch” to it, and this obi was the perfect place to start. It’s a very special obi; I received it anonymously from some lovely person online. I suspect their intent was to have me coordinate it with my Shah Mosque houmongi, but in the end the styles and colours were too different and I could never get them to work together. This kimono, however, is ideal. It’s a similar background colour to the houmongi and the orange-red of the obi really pops against it, but it doesn’t compete with the pattern on the obi itself. It’s a wonderfully neutral foil for the gorgeous obi, and the colours couldn’t work better together if they’d been made to go together. I’d initially thought of using a third bright colour (yellow or pink) for the obiage and obijime but then I remembered these pieces, and everything just clicked.

We’ve also got a special guest photobomber today! Those of you who are longtime readers have probably seen Vinnie before. He usually avoids the mannequin but today he decided he wanted to be the star of the show.

I hope you’re enjoying seeing these posts as much as I’m enjoying doing them! We’ve got one left, and then it’s time to focus on newer things.

One Kimono Four Ways